HANFORD, WA. - A Department of Energy contractor is asking the Savannah River National Laboratory to establish and oversee a panel of experts to look into hazardous chemical vapors management and related worker protection measures at Hanford.
The Washington River Protection Solutions made the announcement on Friday. WRPS is responsible for the management and cleanup of millions of gallons of nuclear and hazardous waste stored in underground tanks.
SRNL is a multiprogram National Laboratory providing scientific and technical expertise to support DOE’s Environmental Management program.
The request for the external review comes after more than two dozen workers received medical attention following exposures to vapors coming from the waste storage tanks. WRPS hopes this new study could have an enhanced scope for analysis and recommendation beyond that of the two previous reviews in 2008 and 2010.
"While a number of steps have been taken and improvements made in recent years to address chemical vapors hazards, the latest set of exposures shows that more work needs to be done. This new review, with its broad scope and the involvement of recognized experts, will make a difference in better protecting Hanford workers from future chemical vapor exposures," said WRPS President and Project Manager Dave Olson.
Features of the panel’s work are expected to include:
•A review of the last four years of relevant technical data gathered as part of the WRPS industrial hygiene program and actions taken as a result;\
•An overall examination of both the adequacy and implementation of present policies, protections, practices and responses to potential vapor exposures, particularly in light of the new exposures;
•A review of currently used and additional available technology that can provide protection against inhalation or other contact with tank vapors, including the use, effectiveness, and availability of personal protective equipment;
•A look at how to improve data collection, retention and analysisto assist in developing workforce and individual worker protection and health evaluation;
•A review of the response to past recommendations and their implementation and potential improvements, and
•Methods to institutionalize the knowledge and ongoing application of best practices in vapors protection and monitoring.